GTAC Files To Explore Penokee Range For Iron Ore Mine


Gogebic Taconite, the company that wants to build a massive open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Range, has applied for a license to explore there. They also say they may file an “intent to mine” with the Department of Natural Resources in the next month or two.

GTAC mining company spokesman Bob Seitz says they’ll move in drill rigs as soon as the ground has dried in the area by the small towns of Morse and Anderson on the Ashland/Iron County line.

“As everything this spring, it will be affected by the weather. So, we’d like to start as soon as we can, but it’s a matter of when you can get [in] safely without doing any more damage… but all of these sites that have been selected are along existing disturbances.”

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Drill holes would be up to 1000 feet deep over a three and a half mile stretch. The first phase would get core samples by drilling between 9 and 30 holes.

DNR Waste Management Director Ann Coakley says they’ll have 10 days to give GTAC an answer.

“Technical staff will look over the submittal and make sure it meets the new law; they may do a site visit also. That’s to insure they’re not drilling in environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands.”

The mine would be in the watershed of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, which has vigorously opposed the proposed mine. Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins says he’s alarmed that drill holes may soon be sunk in their ceded territory.

“The notion of boring holes going down into pristine sensitive areas and into ground water aquifers and essentially going into ground water aquifers and things like that are definitely unsettling. They’re in the headwaters of our nation.”

Meanwhile, Bob Seitz says GTAC will soon file an “intent to mine.” That’s a necessary step: a company has to file the intent to mine a year before applying for a mining permit.